Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Orthodoxy Changes

I think it obvious that what goes by the name of orthodoxy changes over time.

Three examples:
1. Protestantism sprang from Catholicism, and when it did orthodoxy split and thus changed for at least one group (if not the other).

2. Early in its history, the Christian church split and gave rise to the Catholic and Orthodox branches. This split was precipitated by a divergence in doctrine; and that divergence, since it followed what before had been unanimity, implied a change in orthodoxy (if not for both, then at least for one branch).

3. When one compares the doctrines of today's Southern Baptist church to those that they held before, one finds a significant shift. Perhaps it is enough if we consider only these two points of difference: the role of women in the church, and the Church's attitude to non-whites.

From my point of view, I find it absolutely unremarkable that orthodoxy changes. Indeed it's exactly what I would have expected. Scripture and tradition must be interpreted, and humans can never agree about how to get it right. Thus if you tell me that you that you and and your sect know just what God has said, I most certainly won't believe you that do. It's not that I'll believe that what you attribute to God isn't really what He said. As to that, I have no opinion.*  But I most certainly will not believe that you know God as you say you do. Why? Orthodoxy changes. Ergo, to humans the truth in these matters isn't clear. Ergo, to you the truth isn't clear.

*It's not quite right that I have opinion. The argument below seems to me to carry some weight:
If God speaks to us, he'd make sure that we hear what he has to say and that we get the message right.
But if he did that, there'd be no disagreements about what God says - at least not among those who sincerely and honestly seek the truth.
However, there are disagreements, even among the sincere and honest.
Thus God doesn't speak to us (at least not in the way that most folks seem to think).

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